From his ferret-carrying juggler in Inkheart to his deathly dull Charles Darwin in Creation, Paul Bettany’s weird and not-so-wonderful choice of roles hasn’t given him much of a chance to live up to the considerable acting promise he showed in Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No 1. In Scott Stewart’s Legion, the latest entry in Bettany’s gallery of grotesques is a machine-gun toting angel sent to Earth on a divine mission to protect the birth of a messianic child from the wrath of an angry god.
As vaguely defined forces of darkness gather is the desert outside, the angelic Michael (Bettany) and other patrons of the Paradise Falls diner, including Bob (Dennis Quaid), Jeep (Lucas Black), Kyle (Tyres Gibson) and the pregnant Willa (Audrey Anderson) barricade themselves in for a long night. A tensionless siege develops, with random interruptions from outside in the form of a foul-mouthed, spider-walking old lady, gun-toting zombies in cars and eventually the Archangel Gabriel himself, played by Lost’s Kevin Durand.
Like the equally lumpen Constantine, Legion attempts to fuse heavy religiosity with hard-boiled action, a combination which simply doesn’t gel – despite Stewart having several millennia of religious iconography to draw from.
Despite the tepid results here, Bettany and Stuart are about to reteam for comic book adaptation Priest, about a warrior priest who battles vampires when his niece is kidnapped. It can only be better than this ponderous effort, which short-changes thrill-seekers with dollops of pseudo-theological dialogue while dealing out the action highlights somewhat parsimoniously.